MAKE CHIEFTAINCY RELEVANT
GHANAIANS from all walks of life hold their chiefs in high esteem because of the roles the latter play in the governance of our communities.
The first place of call by persons seeking justice for any wrongful acts meted against them is the chief’s palace.
Consequently, in all palaces our chiefs have established councils of elders to adjudicate in cases involving residents of their communities in order to promote law and order.
These councils use the alternative dispute resolution mechanism to settle disputes in their communities and some of these decisions are upheld in the courts of law.
The DAILY GRAPHIC believes that the importance of the chieftaincy institution cannot be downplayed by anybody who has followed keenly the political evolution and development of the country.
Although the constitution debars chiefs from taking part in active party politics and advices any chief wishing to do so and seeking election to Parliament to abdicate his stool or skin, politicians visiting any locality first stop over at the chief’s palace to announce their presence in the community.
However, certain developments in recent times give cause for concern among a section of our population.
One school of thought holds the view that the chieftaincy institution has become irrelevant in the present modern governance system, especially when chiefs are debarred from participating in active party politics.
That school of thought also believes that the chieftaincy institution is the source of the numerous instances of land and communal violence in our communities.
But there are others who think that the future of our country rests on how effectively we are able to reform the chieftaincy institution to spearhead participatory democracy and good governance.
While we agree with Daasebre Prof. (Emeritus) Oti Boateng that traditional leaders could do better without political interference in chieftaincy matters, our chiefs should also lead by example by not encouraging divisions in their localities through support for factions in dispute over a stool or skin.
Daasebre Oti Boateng answered his concerns over political interference in chieftaincy matters when he urged his peers “to prize honour and virtue above anything else and resist all undue influence in whatever shape and form so as to restore the dignity of the sacred institution of chieftaincy”.
The DAILY GRAPHIC is worried about instances when chieftaincy disputes have led to loss of lives and property in many communities.
The local economies of some communities have been shattered because of chieftaincy disputes, as is the case in Bawku, Dagbon, Buipe and Anloga, as a result of which once very vibrant communities are struggling to stand on their feet.
When these developments rear their ugly heads, the political authorities, including the central government, will step in to restore law and order and these actions give a semblance of political interference in chieftaincy matters.
Of course, there are occasions when the long arm of government has been seen in the choice of who occupies a stool or skin in particular localities. This is unacceptable.
The chieftaincy institution has a lot of work to do to regain its dignity because there are many communities where rival chiefs are fighting for the control of the stool or skin.
The DAILY GRAPHIC calls on the National House of Chiefs to put its act together by making it attractive for non royals to buy way to the stools or skins of our communities.
The practice of Kingmakers and paramount chiefs offering skins or stools to the highest bidders must stop.
Chiefs and those who have a role to play to keep the chieftaincy sacred must just live above reproach. If they do so, our traditional leaders will remain relevant to the aspirations of their people.
Daily Graphic Page: 7 Monday, January 3, 2011